Argentina Submarine
The Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan and crew are seen in the port of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun. 2, 2014. The submarine has been missing since Nov. 15. Reuters

Two weeks after an Argentine military submarine disappeared at sea, the Argentine navy released a new timeline of its last known hours. Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the vessel suffered a short circuit of its battery hours before it vanished.

The ARA San Juan last made contact with land Nov. 15. Since then, an international search has been underway to rescue the 44 crew members on board. The timeline released by the Navy Tuesday gave the most detailed account of the submarine’s last known situation.


Nov. 15, 12:30 a.m.: The submarine captain made contact with its commander on land to say that seawater had entered the vessel by way of the “snorkel,” or the pipe connecting the craft to the surface. The water subsequently caused the battery to short circuit and a fire or smoke, which was put out. The submarine was to continue using other batteries.

Nov. 15, 6:00 a.m.: The above conversation was sent to the land base electronically, following standard operating procedure in such situations.

Nov. 15, 7:30 a.m.: The submarine captain contacted the land base again to confirm the submarine was traveling without any problems.

Nov. 15, 10:31 a.m.: A sound was recorded in the ocean near the submarine’s last known location that may have been an explosion.

Argentina Submarine Graphic
The ARA San Juan, an Argentine military submarine, has been missing since Nov. 15. Reuters

The sound consistent with an explosion was detected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which listens for secret atomic blasts. Officials had not yet confirmed any sort of explosion on board the submarine but said they were looking into the possibility.

No trace of the submarine had yet been found. Authorities said they believed the craft had only seven days’ worth of oxygen left when it last made contact, although it was possible it made it close enough to the surface to refill before submerging once again. It was possible the crew was in an “extreme survival situation,” authorities said.

Search and rescue crews from Argentina, the United States, Brazil, Chile and a multitude of other countries have scoured an area almost 300 miles off Argentina’s southern coast in a race against time to find the submarine, Reuters reported. Some family members of those on board leveled accusations of unsafe conditions against the Argentine military. The navy, however, insisted the 34-year-old submarine had been inspected before it set sail and that it was in good condition.

“It is a difficult situation,” Balbi said Tuesday. “But we will keep on searching.”